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Sunday 19 March 2023

Melbourne boutique hotel gets new look and new flavours

There are some pretty weird ways of promoting a hotel. 

One is having just one room designed by a bloke who appears on TV. Another is highlighting an unusual ingredient featured on the menu. 

The team behind the re-launch of Melbourne boutique hotel Laneways By Ovolo have opted to showcase both those options, although they had solid logic behind the moves. 

The new-look property features reimagined public spaces and rooms by Australian interior designers Luchetti Krelle, as well as a new drinking and dining venue Amphlett House - spearheaded by chef and restaurateur Ian Curley and mixologist Andrea Gaudi. 

All good. But here is where it gets a little odd. 

First the hotel is showcasing Room 303 – "an exclusive suite styled by renowned design aficionado Neale Whitaker". Guests who reserve Room 303 can apparently expect a collection of original art, limited-edition objects and soft furnishings hand selected by Whitaker himself.

Wow! Not my thing, but whatever floats your boat, I guess. Whitaker has apparently stayed in the hotel regularly and asked to be involved.    

But wait. Amphlett House is one of the only restaurants in Australia to be serving beef heart, presented at the restaurant seared on a bed of lentils, creamed spinach and mustard.

A dish that will appeal to a very small minority, I suspect, although someone who has tried the dish describes it as "excelleent". 

One other oddity: in the hotel lobby guests will find an Honesty Bar, offering an assortment of sweet and savoury treats, bottled cocktails, wine and Champagne. Guests note what they take and it is charged back to their rooms.

I wonder how long that will last? 

Anyway, back to the basics. 

The hotel has 42 rooms and the decor takes inspiration from the Memphis Group - a 1980s Italian design and architecture collective. 

It is located at the top of Little Bourke Street, well located for the nearby theatre district.

Guests booking directly with the hotel are guaranteed: breakie to go-go, high-speed wifi; in-room mini bar (first round is on Ovolo); self-service laundry, all-day sweet, welcome goodie, social hour in Amphlett House (below) and a tree planted by Eden Project. 

“The food concept for Amphlett House is elevated pub dining, with a classic menu highlighting quality Victorian produce," says Curley. 

"I’ve loved this part of Melbourne for many years and am looking forward to serving up humble fare with big flavours at the top end of town. We welcome guests to share a meal with family and friends or grab a quick bite with your better half.”

In addition to beef heart, other food offerings might include smoked bone marrow served on toast, parsley and shallot salad, blue oyster mushroom skewer with smoked romesco and moules marinières, aioli and toasted sourdough. 

To learn more, or to make a booking, visit

Laneways By Ovolo is at 19 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. 

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